Future High Streets Forum looks to help future of the high street
A new government drive to revitalise the future of the high street has been launched with the backing of retail, property and business leaders including John Lewis, the British Retail Consortium and the British Property Federation.
The Future High Streets Forum will seek to adapt the high street to the changing spending habits of customers, and areas which create the best revamp ideas will be awarded funding from a £1m pot dedicated to the project.
Adam Stewart, marketing director of Rakuten's Play.com, said: "Over the last few years shopping has evolved and online and offline shopping experiences have become increasingly blurred. However, rather than online leading to the demise of the high street, there is a strong argument to suggest these two shopping channels should co-exist and support one another.
"Many businesses are already embracing this change by joining up their offerings, using in-store Wi-Fi, click and collect services and online offers redeemable in-store and reversely online stores are increasingly using pop-up stores to create physical brand touch-points."
Improved parking facilities and planning decision priorities will be on the agenda of the forum, which will also look at increasing the number of pop-up stores.
"It will be interesting to see the plans the forum puts forward to revitalise the high street, but ultimately all retailers need to work towards a refined shopping ecosystem that targets consumers both online and offline," added Stewart.
High profile campaigns have made headlines in recent years, namely by retail expert and television presenter, Mary Portas, who headed the Portas Review into the plight of the nation's high streets. With the continuing shift towards online, however, the government is renewing efforts to boost the traditional shopping centre.